Madison-Based Illustrator Leah Danz DiPasquale Signs with KWiL

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As expected, my inbox was crowded with an overwhelming number of Cyber Monday deals this morning. “Delete, delete, delete,” I clicked. But then I arrived at one from the Children’s Book Review. The subject advertised a new, interactive series from Scholastic and an opportunity to win a $100 gift card from Amazon, but it was one of the articles listed in the digest inside that caught my attention.

“20 Best Kids Christmas Books”

Click. KWiL has not one, but two, holiday titles on our list, and here was market research being delivered directly to my inbox.

And also, oh what fun to look at Christmas book covers! If the tree-topped cars, carols on the radio, and grocery shelves stocked with candy canes and egg nog weren’t clue enough, bookstore displays (which I’d visited weekly since they went up just after Halloween) were heavily laden with Christmas titles ranging from classic, to contemporary, to commercial, and e-mails like the one I had just received from the Children’s book Review, confirmed: even in the kid lit world, the holiday season had officially begun.

Although KWiL isn’t quite ready to make any major cyber Monday sales offers this year, what we can share today is really the next best thing: TWO announcements about our forthcoming Christmas books.

In this post, I am thrilled to announce that we have signed with Leah Danz DiPasquale to illustrate Rochelle Groskreutz’s Easter Elf Vs. Christmas Elf.

Leah’s journey to creating picture books is as magical as the season. When Leah was in tenth grade she was given a questionnaire in a literature class that asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Leah claims that she hadn’t a clue, but nevertheless decided to write down, “I’d want to make children’s books.”

Her answer wasn’t completely random. Leah grew up in Stevens Point surrounded by picture books. Leah’s mom took Leah and her brother to the library every week, where they would get “…a bunch of books, and sometimes donuts from a nearby bakery.”

Leah studied graphic design in college, and she currently works as a Senior Graphic Designer in Madison, WI. She has illustrated three other children’s books, Patsy Bea (Ashley Lokey, Harrington & Harrington Press, 2017), Even Lions Wear Pajamas (Natalie Malafronte, Zamponi Press, 2017) and Who’s Who at the Bearaboo Zoo, Thomas Webber, still in production). She has also had art published in Cricket Media’s BabyBug Magazine.

Leah describes her artistic style as cheerful and colorful. She grew up loving cartoons and animation, newspaper comic strips, and picture books, all of which heavily influence her style today.

Leah’s preferred medium is digital, but she begins her process with a pencil, paper, and clipboard. She prefers to keep this part of her process “unplugged.” In the summer, when the weather is nice, she sits outside in the evenings with her cat and sketches while he watches birds and eats grass.

Once she has her sketches created, she takes photos of them, scans them, and then adds color and dimension digitally.

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KWiL’s VP of Art and Design, Sheri Roloff, introduced me to Leah last September at SCBWI-WI’s fall conference. Leah was one of the winners of the art contest, and Sheri, who had already been following Leah’s work, could not speak any more highly about Leah and her illustration style. We left the conference knowing that Leah’s talent and passion for kid lit were unique, and that we wanted to work with her.

When we signed Easter Elf Vs. Christmas Elf, we immediately thought of Leah. Her art would bring the liveliness, varied perspectives, bright colors, and overall holiday cheer the manuscript called for. When Leah’s sample art for the book arrived in our inbox, we felt like, you guessed it, kids on Christmas morning.

We heartily welcome Leah to the KWiL team, and hope that this is just the beginning of many projects we will create together. With Leah on board, it won’t be long before Easter Elf Vs. Christmas Elf finds its way onto the Children’s Book Review’s, or any other list, of best Christmas Books.

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Leah, her husband, and aforementioned cat live in Madison, WI. To learn more about Leah, please visit her WEBSITE. Leah has given KWiL permission to share some of her art, below. Enjoy! All images are copyrighted.

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Finally, stay tuned for a second Cyber Monday Christmas announcement coming later this afternoon!

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